It’s the kind of story that angers everyone who wears a uniform.
On Friday, a retired Baltimore Police sergeant pleaded guilty in a 2014 case, where a toy gun was planted on a man police chased. The purpose? To justify and officer running him down with this vehicle.
Since being charged in March, 52-year-old Keith Gladstone has been free on pretrial supervision. He entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court.
This indictment was an offshoot of a continuing investigation into police corruption allegations all related to the Gun Trace Task Force scandal. In that case, eight officers in the city were convicted of racketeering offenses for robbing people using their badge.
“Prosecuting criminals who work in police agencies is essential both to protect our communities and to support the many honorable officers whose reputations they unfairly tarnish,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.
Gladstone was accompanied by his wife and two children. The only time he spoke was to answer the judge’s questions.
“I do agree, I am guilty,” he told U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake.
Attorney David Irwin spoke positively to reporters about Gladstone, saying he had given two decades of “honest, fantastic service to the citizens of Baltimore.”
“He made some serious mistakes in judgment and it’s been really eating at him for a while, and he wanted to get this over with and he wanted to take responsibility and pay his debt to the citizens of Baltimore City,” Irwin said.
There have been other allegations made against Gladstone by some citizens, including that he took money or conducted illegal searches.
Irwin refused to comment on that.
“He’s taken full responsibility for what he pled guilty to today,” Irwin said.
Gladstone has been described by prosecutors as a mentor and frequent collaborator with former Sgt. Wayne Jenkins. Jenkins ultimately lead the gun unit and is serving 25 years in federal prison.
During that Gun Trace Task Force trial, a cooperating officer weighed in on recommendations from Jenkins. He claims Jenkins advised his officers to carry toy guns to plant on people in the event they got into a situation where they would have to justify their actions.
According to prosecutors, that’s exactly what happened in March 2014.
Jenkins was chasing down a man named Demetric Simon, who jumped out of his vehicle and took off.
Jenkins ran the man down with his car and claimed he saw a gun in his hand. A BB gun was located under a nearby vehicle.
Prosecutor said in the indictment that Gladstone got a frantic call from Jenkins while he was having a meal.
Gladstone then asked two officers he was with if they had BB guns with them. Those two men weren’t named in the indictment. Prosecutors say they eventually retrieved one from his vehicle’s trunk.
That story changed a bit on Friday.
In Gladstone’s plea agreement, it says Gladstone actually got the BB gun not from his own vehicle but from another, undisclosed officer’s home.
So far, there have been no other charges in connection with the incident.
At the time, police put the newly created Force Investigation Team in charge of looking into Simon being run over by Jenkins.
There’s a 500-page investigative file which the Baltimore Sun claims it reviewed and found no record of Gladstone’s name in it.
In 2012, Gladstone retired from the department.
He returned a year later.
Then he retired again, just weeks after the Gun Trace Task Force indictments in 2017.
The federal indictment goes on to say that in January 2018, Gladstone wanted to meet with one of the officers he was with the night of the gun planting incident. He requested the meeting take place in a pool at the YMCA to make sure he wasn’t being recorded, because he was apparently concerned about possible exposure for the gun planting.
The indictment says he then told the officer that if anyone asked him about the incident, he should tell authorities they were at the scene only to provide perimeter security.
Gladstone is also being sued for a case back in 2010, where Jenkins admitted that drugs were planted on a man named Umar Burley. Burley fled from Jenkins and other officers and ultimately got into a crash that killed an 87-year-old man in Northwest Baltimore.
Gladstone is the same man who won at least two awards from the department. One was in for tackling a suspect who allegedly fired a shot while holding up a business in Northwest Baltimore.
He now faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced in September.